6.01.2012

Books Reviews, Vol 2.


The Woman From Cheshire Avenue is the story of Lilith Wells, "a successful young black woman, and the daughter of a prominent local politician. After a bizarre first encounter, she becomes the object of obsession to a Neo-Nazi from the streets."

I won't lie. I had serious reservations about this novella. Reading about a psychotic Neo Nazi stalking a black woman is not my idea of quality entertainment. In the hands of a lesser writer, this plot would've been a disaster. However author Ankhesen Mié not only makes it work but takes the narrative and the characters to unexpected places to keep you wanting to find out more.

Mié definitely shows that she has a handle on her characters and there's no finer example of that than Eric, one of the central protagonists and the stalker Nazi guy.

Eric is a monster, he's brilliant, he's crazy, he's messed up, he's complicated, he's sympathetic, he's human. He's a child who's hungry for knowledge and love and said childlike nature and hunger is what keeps him sympathetic and eventually redeemable.

Mié also does an incredible job exploring the world of the Neo-Nazi culture and actually debunks the mystique and point out the truth in realistic manner. She illustrates how so many lost souls find themselves into this life and how easily they get twisted and manipulated into becoming monsters. While they are monsters, Mié objectively shows that they are still human beings and that at least makes them relatable. Their actions are still horrendous, but at least you understand why they are monsters. I haven't seen exploration this intelligent since American History X.

Mié effectively keeps the pacing of the story steady and it never drags or flies through anything. That's a trait that few authors possess and said trait is a testament to her skills as a writer. Because of my busy schedule, I thought it would take weeks for me to finish this story. But because of the plot and the intrigue, I ripped through the novella in days. I eagerly wanted to find out what happened next.

One thing I would've like to have seen more of is Lilith's motivation. There was much that was hinted at but there were leaps of logic in her choices that still left me wondering, particularly her initial encounter with Eric but even still, you definitely like Lilith as a character.

But hands down for me, the biggest treat was the Hirosawas. Michael virtually stole every scene he was in without even trying. The guy is an jerk (and a killer) but he's got style and nuance. Rachel was an immensely powerful character that her impact resonated in the few scenes she was in. I look forward to seeing how things play out in The Velvet Hall.

I definitely enjoyed The Woman From Cheshire Avenue, but more than that, I'm eagerly awaiting The Velvet Hall.

~ Dennis Upkins, author of Hollowstone

This is the fourth book by talented author, Ankhesen Mié. No, I’m not just saying that because she’s my friend and business partner; she is talented. The Woman From Cheshire Avenue (a book I lovingly renamed Chessy Ave), isn’t a book for the faint of heart. I did not know what the book was about when I first read it, and I admit to feeling like I’d been smacked across the face. Once I got my equilibrium, I enjoyed the story. It’s dark and different, and as a fellow goth writer, I can respect and appreciate it.

Ankhesen’s latest effort gives readers a sneak peek into a place that they may not want to see. Chessy Ave introduces us to a violent, murderous Neo-Nazi named Eric who has identity issues and a conflicted, tortured soul. Let me reiterate: Eric is a Neo-Nazi and he rolls with Neo-Nazis, and therefore readers will be privy to language, thoughts, words and deeds that are not warm and fuzzy. Consider yourself warned.

Chessy Ave focuses on Eric and his encounters and dealings with Lilith Wells, a beautiful black woman who is so way out of his league that she is the Sun to his Pluto. But just like that tiny former planet, Eric can’t help but be sucked into Lilith’s orbit, and the two embark on an unlikely relationship. Lilith is also conflicted and struggles with her self-worth and something in her responds to Eric, regardless of whom he thinks he is.

However, Eric and his wanna-be ruthless gang of Aryans actually run upon some real villains, the Hirosawas. They are a family of beautiful murderers and they do not fuck around when it comes to business. The Hirosawas are a mysterious faction; a family united in blood, loyalty, and money, and when orders come down from “above,” they are meticulously followed without question. They operate in darkness and shadows and are an intriguing lot, and they hover over the second half of Chessy Ave like an enormous, fat black spider. Michael Hirosawa, an elegant, classy, sexy-as-hell homicidal maniac, is the black sheep of the family, but not in the way one might think. Because of his connections in the community of Cherrywood, and because of Lilith’s background, Michael is not happy with Lilith’s relationship with Eric.

Chessy Ave is a collection of individual, dark components that Ankh starts weaving together, and by the end, readers get a brief impression that she is creating something unusual, but may not be entirely sure what it is. Chessy Ave is actually part of a larger work, and the story will continue in The Velvet Hall, the sequel. I look forward to reading more about the Hirosawas (especially fine-ass Michael), and all of the chicanery and tomfoolery that will definitely ensue as a result of their presence in Cherrywood.

My gripe with Chessy Ave? It’s too short.


~ Amaya Radjani, author of Corruption

Dear Ms. Mié,

Why the hell didn't you send this to me, LOL? I'm always looking for books that push the envelope, books that make me say "damn, I wish I'd written this"! Seriously, The Woman from Cheshire Avenue was one of the most AWESOME books I have read all year and frankly, I'm getting pretty envious at Middle Child Press. It's not the fact that you made a neo-Nazi into a character I came to care about, nor was it the fact that Lilith had the kind of class, balls and sass that I don't see too often in a lot of books. It's not even the fact that Michael Hirosawa and his family of scary, yet elegant criminals reminded me of some of the best Japanese crime dramas--it's how you managed to pack so much action and emotion in a mere 90-something pages. And that's another thing--you have left me chomping at the bit and I am not happy, LOL.

You could have taken the easier route and made Eric Quisling (is it just me who gets the joke about his last name) a poor-misunderstood-comes-from-a-broken-home type. Instead, you made him complex and on one hand his behavior horrified me (as it should have). On the other, to see him brought literally to his knees by an elegant black woman who faced him head on (and kissed him--I LOVED that part), just seemed so fitting. And what can I say about Lilith Wells? Like all of your characters, she's wonderfully complex--both brave and flawed. Every page was like unwrapping all the various and sundry layers of her being. Again, how you managed this in a scant 90-something pages speaks volumes to how well you have mastered the craft of writing. There are authors who need entire trilogies to do what you do with the kind of chracters--outsiders all--in a novella. Even Madison, the standard hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold, manages to transcend that tiresome trope to become a character I really liked (and usually a black hooker makes me face-palm). You didn't spare the violence, the rage, the ugliness but you did all of these aspects with a practiced hand.

The Woman from Cheshire Avenue reads like a Kurosawa meets Truffault meets Beineix meets Fuqua film, and frankly it should be one (if Hollywood had any sense). It's Cornell Woolrich and Chester Himes on steroids! To say I loved this, is the understatement of the decade. Bravo!


~ Kymberlyn Reed, Acqusitions Editor for Parker Publishing

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